Sunday 18 February 2018

Instagram users claim victory after privacy row climbdown

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

INSTAGRAM users are claiming victory after the company apparently backed down on plans to sell people's photos without their permission.

On Monday, the popular photo website changed its privacy policy to allow it to sell users' pictures to third parties including advertisers, without a user giving their express permission.

The changes made no provision for photos of people including young children being used.

The only way to opt out of the changes, which are scheduled to become active in a month, is to delete your account.

The new conditions were met with fury online, as user after user took to the web to complain about the changes. Many of the application's 100 million users deleted their accounts in protest.


The singer Pink was one of many celebrities who will dump the site, telling her 12 million followers: "I will be quitting Instagram today. What a bummer. You should all read their new rules."

The furore last night moved the company to attempt to calm fears about privacy.

In a blog post, company co-founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom said the new policy had been misinterpreted and it was "not our intention to sell your photos".

"Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed," he wrote.

On privacy, he claimed "nothing has changed about the control you have over who can see your photos. If you set your photos to private, Instagram only shares your photos with the people you've approved to follow you".

Despite the apparent concessions, privacy experts said they would need to see what revisions Instagram makes to its privacy policy before accepting the company had retreated.

Facebook bought the app in a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars earlier this year, and sweeping privacy changes that are later rolled back are a hallmark of Mark Zuckerberg's company.

"Instagram has given people a pretty stark choice: Take it or leave, and if you leave it you've got to leave the service," said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a rights group.

Mr Systrom also made no mention of another part of the policy that implies if a user is under 18, then their parent or guardian has tacitly agreed to the terms on their behalf.

Even after these concessions, it wasn't enough for some users.

'National Geographic', which had been one of the earliest institutions to start using the app, said it was "very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service and if they remain as presented we may close our account".

David Darcy comment

Irish Independent

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